ANOTHER COFFEE BREAK: HEAVEN I: A Trip to the Future
Nov 12, '10 5:44 PM
By Regner Capener
Greetings, Solutions, Salutations, Cheerio, etc., etc., etc!
How be you this great, getting’ up mornin’?
My coffee is steeping at the moment. Got some of the richest, oiliest dark-roasted coffee beans you’ve ever seen. Man, when you grind those beans, it fills the whole house with an aroma that just won’t quit! I’m going to pour my cup in a minute, and grab a “vitamin” to go with it.
You know what kind of “vitamins” I’m talking about, right? Those things you get over at Safeway, or Krispy Kreme, or Dunkin’ Donuts? Hehehehehe…… Now you’ve got it! Don’t you just looove those “vitamins?”
Lots more French Roasted Columbian Supremo in the pot this morning, so pour yourself some brew. It's Gooooooooooooddddd!!!!! Mmmmmm Mmmmm..........love that aroma!
This Coffee Break is really being shared at the urging of my cousin, Dawn. She’s heard me share parts of it and asked me the other day if I had ever written it down. Throughout the years of sharing in these Coffee Breaks, I’ve alluded occasionally to my experiences of going to Heaven, and have occasionally shared some of them with friends, family members and small groups. This will be the first time I’ve ever actually written about my trips to Heaven.
Throughout the years I’ve heard others share their experiences – Jesse Duplantis is a notable example; Steven Shelley is another – and because many of them have had similar experiences to mine I just never felt the necessity of putting it on paper. I’ve realized, however, that there are some singular differences and things that I experienced that I’ve never heard anyone else share. That being the case, my prayer is that you will receive something in my sharing that will reveal more of the character and nature of the Lord Jesus Christ in your being.
First, let’s lay a little groundwork.
The apostle Paul makes reference to something that has been the subject of much discussion and controversy throughout the years. Here’s how he refers to Heaven:
II Corinthians 12:2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth😉 such an one caught away (up, KJV) to the third heaven.
He refers to the “the third heaven.” OK, if there are three heavens, what are they, where are they, and why are there three? And if this guy was caught up to the third heaven, why don’t we see references to the other two?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably figured that the sky above (the atmosphere around the earth) is the first heaven, the universe (or else the realm of space surrounding the earth) is the second heaven, and God’s actual residence – the place where angels dwell, and where we go when we die if we know the Lord – is what we generically call “Heaven.” And you’d be wrong – like I was.
Some folks actually imagine different tiers of Heaven – like storeys in a huge building. Actually the answer(s) are pretty clear in the Word, and why more folks haven’t caught on to this is puzzling. Let me lay this out in logical and methodical order to clear up any confusion.
First, David writes the following:
Psalm 115:16: The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’S: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.
So David makes it clear there are plural heavens. We have to go to Peter’s epistles, however, in order to understand what they are.
II Peter 3:5-6: For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:
What Peter is telling us is that the first heaven, along with the first earth, perished. I know that the KJV only translates the Greek in such a way that we are told that the “world that then was” perished, without specific reference to the heavens. However, the Greek word translated “world” in this instance is kosmos (the orderly arrangement of the earth as it relates to the sun, the moon and the stars; kosmos is a term which applies to both the earth and the heavens in general) rather than ge, (soil; the solid part of the earth, the ground, the world) the specific word used in verse 5 to describe the Earth as apart from the kosmos.
Next Peter says this as he distinguishes between the first and second heavens:
II Peter 3:7: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
So the second heaven is that heaven which exists today – “the heavens and the earth which are now.” These are “kept in store, reserved unto fire.” Peter goes on to say the following in verse 10:
II Peter 3:10: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
He repeats this in verse 12:
II Peter 3:12: Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat.
Now Peter goes on to tell us about the third heaven:
II Peter 3:13: Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Speaking from the perspective of the current heavens and earth, John confirms this as he sees a revelation of the new heaven.
Revelation 21:1: And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.
Isaiah also prophesies this twice:
Isaiah 65:17, 66:22: For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. … For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain.
I’ll deal with the subject of “Paradise” in part two of this sharing since some folks often confuse it with Heaven – and the same distinctions occur between Heaven and Paradise in the Word.
Now, I’ve said all that just to lay the foundation so that you understand the perspective from which I relate my experiences. When we talk about going to Heaven, and being caught away into the presence of the Lord, we’re talking about eternity. We’re talking about the future. I was taken into the future – actually into eternity – where I had these experiences.
OK? Are we clear? Good!
The date, to the best of my recollection, was December 17, 1951. I was shy of my tenth birthday by about four months. For nearly six years the Bible had been my daily companion. A thirst to know the Lord – I mean really know Him as He is – had developed in my being. I read the Word first thing every morning when I awoke. It was the last thing I read before falling asleep.
After I began to have experiences at age four where I would awaken in the early morning hours to see angels in my room, my mother wanted to ensure that I knew the Scriptural foundation for the rather supernatural events that were taking place in my life; and she taught me to read using the Bible. By the time December of 1951 rolled around, I had been through the Bible from cover to cover perhaps nine or ten times reading – no, devouring – it with an insatiable craving.
For three continuous years, between the age of four and age seven, I had more experiences with angels than I could possibly count. One morning, at or near age seven, I awoke to see Jesus standing at the foot of my bed. Without taking time to go into all that He shared with me, He made it clear that He was calling me into His service and that He had some special assignments for me.
I saw some pretty graphic scenes of events that would unfold – both in the near future and in the distant future. He allowed me to see the return of the Jews to Israel and the restoration of their homeland not long before the UN declared Israel to be a nation once again. I was not a follower of the news, so if there had been any reporting of any preparation for it in the news I was completely oblivious. I simply knew of it as a prophetic Word and promise given to the Jews from the Lord through several of the O.T. prophets.
During this visitation Jesus shared with me events to come in my own life and made some specific promises to me that I won’t go into right now. Being with Him and experiencing His presence at that young age implanted a sense of His Glory that I still struggle to describe adequately to this day. The point I’m making is that from that moment forward, His presence was easily discernable. I didn’t need to see Him to know that He was there.
The night of December 17th was no different than any other night. I went to bed at my normal time, and as usual opened my Bible to read before going to sleep. There was nothing especially revelatory or scintillating in what I was reading. The 32nd through the 34th chapters of Deuteronomy aren’t particularly adventure stories to grip your attention, although there were a couple of verses in chapter 32 (6-7) that seemed to stand out momentarily.
I had laid my Bible out on the pillow and propped up on my elbows to read. All of a sudden I felt that extraordinary, almost electric sense of the physical presence of the Lord Jesus in the room. Almost involuntarily – spontaneously – I turned over expecting to see Him standing there.
What I saw instead was something you might expect in a science-fiction movie, but there was nothing fictional about it. The ceiling in my bedroom was dissolving away so that I could see the starlit sky above. Jesus was there in mid-air beckoning me with an outstretched hand. I reached up to take His hand and was whisked out of the bed to be right next to Him.
Effortlessly, we flew right through the ceiling and began to accelerate upward. I glanced backward to see where we had come from and to my utter surprise saw back through the roof and the ceiling my body still laying in the bed with my face in the Bible. It was a contradiction to what I was experiencing and I didn’t fully understand what it meant to be transported in the realm of the Spirit. There was no time to focus on it, however, and I turned my full attention to the Lord.
The sense of acceleration was awe-inspiring as we traveled faster and faster and faster. Before long I was treated to a view of the earth that our astronauts would get to see more than a decade in the future. Past the moon, past the planets in our Solar System we traveled, continuing to accelerate until we were somewhere (I guessed) in the midst of the Milky Way galaxy. Our speed continued to increase until everything was a blur.
A good description of what I was seeing now would be akin to the visual effect the movie-makers have come up with in Star Trek or Stargate when the ships jump to hyperspace. The stars began to blend together as white streaks. It wasn’t long before we were in total darkness. There was no sense of direction, although the sense of acceleration and speed continued, and I was surrounded by nothing but utter blackness. The only thing I could see was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who still had me by the hand.
As quickly as we had been thrust into total darkness, we were standing at Heaven’s gates. It was almost as if I had blinked my eyes for a split second and Heaven was in front of us.
Obviously aware of the fact that I had been through the Word from front to back many times, often focusing on and spending time studying the lives of many of the Biblical characters, Jesus now turned to me and asked, “Is there anyone you would like to meet and talk to while you are here?”
Was there? Wow! Rattling off the names of people in rapid-fire I responded, “Yes, Jesus! I want to meet Adam and Eve. I want to talk to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I want to meet Joseph. How about Moses? And then there’s David and Solomon. And how about Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel?
I named off the apostles. I wanted to meet Paul and spend some time with him. The more I thought about it the more my list grew. Jesus looked at me and grinned. My request was no surprise to Him.
We stepped inside the gate. We went from what had been total darkness to total light. There was no sun, but Heaven was lit up with a brightness greater than that of the sun. Every one of my five senses were inundated with sights, sounds, smells and feelings hard to describe.
The aroma of Heaven was … well … heavenly! It was almost like being in a flower garden where every flower radiated its scent to the max at once. At the same time, it took no effort to discern between different aromas and flavors. It was a feast for the nose. I don’t know how to describe it any differently. I’ve had moments since in the years that followed where I have had the air fill with some of those scents – and there have been others with me who experienced it simultaneously.
Perhaps the most gripping thing I experienced from the very get-go was the sound. I’d already been learning to play musical instruments and was keenly aware of musical structure. The air was filled with a sound of worship and praise the likes of which have stayed with me my whole life. I’ll talk more about this later, but ever since this first trip to Heaven, there has never been a day – and scarcely a moment – when I don’t hear the sounds of praise and worship music flowing in my spirit – and brother, does it ever take many different forms!
Imagine for a moment hearing music like huge waves rolling over you. Each wave brings a different sound – a different focus – a different flow. One wave might be the sound of tens of thousands of voices singing in the most spectacular harmony you’ve ever heard. The next might be the sounds of strings being plucked or bowed or struck with cadences and rhythms we’ve only tasted of here on earth. Another might be the sounds of a million different kinds of brass or woodwind instruments. Every so often I could hear the simple strains of a single instrument in praise and worship. The music was … how can I describe it? … organic!
No, I don’t mean like the sound of an organ – although there was certainly that sound present. What I mean is that the music, the praise, the worship, the sounds of the voices and instruments literally penetrated you. They became a part of your whole being in such a way that you were part of that praise and worship.
Let’s put it like this: you can’t be there and be in that presence of the Lord and not have your whole being radiate that sound as though it originated within the very cells of your existence! And it does. We were created for that purpose. Each person becomes an extension, an addition to the sound of worship. Your very existence, your very presence (excuse me if I sound repetitious) becomes a part of that sound. It’s the sound of the Lord radiating in you, out of you, through you! It’s the sound of His presence! It’s the sound of His Glory!
The music we call “praise and worship” today is a poor substitute. But the Lord isn’t complaining about it. We, after all, are being trained and prepared for a new sound – and it’s not a sound like anything here I can compare it to. We need to break out of our religious boxes. More accurately, we need for the Holy Spirit to break us out of our musical mindsets, our expectations and the sounds we come to expect as a part of praise and worship.
I’ve run out of time today, so let’s pick it up here in our next Coffee Break as we consider the sights that I saw. If we have time in that discussion, I’ll get into some of the conversations that took place.
Next: Heaven II: The Patriarchs.
If we live in His presence, and continually respond to His voice, He will reveal His Glory in us. If He reveals His Glory in us, He will have received His inheritance in us – and that’s what this is all about!
Blessings on you!
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